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Pandemics in Retrospect—Looking Back on the Coronavirus From 2050

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/19/pandemics-retrospect-looking-back-coronavirus-2050

Reading your article, I am immediately and inevitably reminded of Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy’s iconic utopian novel, published in 1888. I read it some fifteen years ago, but its message has reverberated ever since, and its relevance has, no doubt, become more obvious (and transcendent) of late. If this visionary work is a founding doctrine (and central thesis) for present-day futurists, they can have no better frame of reference, and perhaps we can then all aspire, and work together towards, a utopian future.

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Mother nature is trying to get rid of the parasites before they destroy the earth.—But the news from 2050 will be how the world went into a massive depression in a panic to a virus they had the cure for locked in a freezer .

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It’s hard to know whether the authors of this rosy picture of the future are just naive or simply delusional, given what we know about the history of human nature, the psychology of power and it’s magnetic pull for sociopaths and psychopaths to direct the policies of governments, financial and industrial markets and the military. And I’m talking globally, not just the jolly old U.S. of A. I’ll make a prediction of my own… in five years time, this will just be seen as an unfortunate blip in the past, there will be a vaccine, most of the world will go back to sleep, filling their lives with the full time job of trying to survive, fending for their families, and in the brutal callous mercenary world of capitalism, it will be business as usual. The rich will be richer and the gap between the 1% and the 99% will be ever greater. Fossil fuels will NOT be left in the ground, global warming will still be constantly talked about with no global comprehensive action taking place. There will still be plenty of nuclear weapons around to obliterate us all, there will still be military conflicts around the world and the military industrial complex will make a ‘killing’ (pun intended) from the deaths and misery it unleashes. When the next pandemic hits, we will probably be no better prepared that we were for this one. Certainly not in the U.S.
Trust me, I’d love to be wrong. If I survive this pandemic and anything has significantly changed for the better in five years, I will publicly print out this article on thick cardboard and eat it.

That picture of Hazel Henderson is AT LEAST 40 years old. She is 83 years old and still going strong! She is not an optimist, but a visionary. We need more like her–now more than ever–to ward off despair and suggest ideals to reach toward. She is one of my mentors-by-print, and was my first glimpse of heterodox economics except for E. F. Schumacher, whom I had sort of forgotten about when a friend gave me one of her books as I had just begun to study economics in the mid-1990s.

Mostly self taught, she is well respected among the heterodox economics community, which is large and growing fast. If this is the first you have heard of heterodox economics, it will not be the last. Aside from Schumacher, the heterodox term that would be the next most likely for you to have heard is “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMM). Stephanie Kelton, who served as Chief Economist for the Democratic Minority Staff of the Senate Budget Committee 2015-2016, leaving that position to become an economic advisor to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign is of the heterodox school of economic thought.

Thanks for the reminder about Bellamy. I can’t even remember when I read it, but I think it has been nearly 60 years. Probably an appropriate time to take a fresh look at it.

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If she is 83 it is possible but very unlikely that she will be here with us to see how reality compares with what she wrote in this article. - As for those predictions “by 2030”, a bit more likely, but only a bit.

They are not in any sense “predictions,” but aspirations, or ideals. A vision; reminders of what we would like to see happen, in order that we shall not settle for less than the best we can actually achieve.

In San Francisco in about 1975 I knew a Cuban refugee who was building a sailboat to whisk his family off to the “South Seas.” He had come up with a good mantra to keep himself focused on the task and aware of its serious nature. It can apply to almost any undertaking.

There are three ways to build a boat:
It’s right.
It’s good enough.
Oh, (bleep!), it’ll do.

The older I get, and the more things I have built and rebuilt, the better I understand it.

Thank you two for spelling it all out. Took a while to get through, but I’m glad I did. Reminds me of the messages of “Ecotopia,” a book I read long ago, that made quite a positive impression on me.

I think your visions show just how possible it is, to DO good things, and to still HAVE good things that will improve our lives.

The only hurdle we have to get over is the Hurdle of the Rich, their feeling that THEY have the prerogatives to make all the rest of us (95 % of humanity) do their self-supporting will in perpetuity. They see us as their SLAVES, plain and simple.

The measures the RICH have (and yes, will) put into place will NOT alter to accommodate anything new at all, until they are FORCED to, by (one assumes) the absolute total depletion of all the carbon fuels the Earth can be made to produce… by which time, of course, we’ll all be living in ghettos, except for that HATED ONE PERCENT, WHO LORD THEIR POWER OVER THE REST OF US. I point up the word HATED, only to REMIND them that there IS a limit to their bad behavior, and it will mature without warning; so they really ought to EXPECT it all to come loose from its moorings one day.

If anyone is willing to let the Rich S H I T on us and get away with it, just carry on the way you are going.

But not me, or my family. We didn’t work our entire lives to be turned out of the banquet spread before us, and we won’t tolerate it happening.

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